Tuesday Reads: Too Many Emergencies

Good Afternoon!!

Is it just me, or are we really approaching the point at which U.S. democracy cannot be saved? Trump wants to hold next year’s G7 at his private Doral resort in Florida, which would mean that foreign countries would literally have to pay his family business for the privilege of attending. And Trump will likely try to invite Putin next year after he “went to the mat for Putin” over the weekend.

As we approach next year’s presidential election, the Federal Election Commission, the agency that enforces campaign finance laws, is going out of business. Trump and McConnell have stymied legislative efforts to secure our elections.

House Democrats aren’t doing much to control the lawless madman president, much less take steps toward impeaching him. They are making efforts to get his tax returns through the courts, but Rep. Richard Neal refuses to ask New York to provide Trump’s state tax returns.

It’s beginning to look like the race for the Democratic presidential nomination will be between three deeply flawed septuagenarian candidates: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren.

I hope you’ll check out the links above; there simply isn’t time or space for me to provide excerpts here. And there are so many emergencies that I didn’t mention, such as Trump’s war on immigrants, the problem of easily available guns and the rising threat of white supremacist violence.

Today’s top emergency is the burning of the Amazon rain forest in Brazil.

The Washington Post: What you need to know about the Amazon rainforest fires.

The Amazon — nearly four times the size of Alaska — is a vast sink for storing carbon dioxide and a key element of any plan to restrain climate change. Any increase in deforestation there would speed up global warming as well as damage an important refuge for biodiversity.

Studies show the 2.2 million-square mile forest is nearing a tipping point, at which large fragmented portions of the rainforest could transform into an entirely different, drier ecosystem, leading to the acceleration of climate change, the loss of countless species and disaster for the indigenous populations that call the tropical rainforest home….

The trees and plants of the Amazon forest pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere as part of photosynthesis. Destruction of the forest releases carbon stored in the trees and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide used by them.

People are the cause of the Amazon fires.

…most fires in the Amazon are caused by humans, set either accidentally or intentionally.

Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research found the country has lost more than 1,330 square miles of forest cover to development since January, when President Jair Bolsonaro took office. That’s a 39 percent increase over the same period in 2018. July in particular featured a huge spike in forest loss, with an area larger than the city of Los Angeles lost in a single month.

Why would anyone want to hard the Amazon rain forest?

The biggest economic interest groups eating away at the Amazon are cattle grazers and soybean growers. “Directly after deforestation, mostly what we see is pasture,” said Mikaela Weisse, a fellow at the World Resources Institute. Later, soybean growers expand by taking over pasture lands.

Mining, timber and development firms are also eyeing the region for expansion, encouraged by Bolsonaro’s election.

There’s much more helpful (and horrifying) information at the WaPo link.

The New York Times: Brazil Says It Will Reject Millions in Amazon Aid Pledged at G7.

Hours after leaders of some of the world’s wealthiest countries pledged more than $22 million to help combat fires in the Amazon rainforest, Brazil’s government angrily rejected the offer, in effect telling the other nations to mind their own business — only to later lay out potential terms for the aid’s acceptance.

President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil expressed his ire in a series of Twitter posts on Monday, and specifically criticized and taunted President Emmanuel Macron of France, who had announced the aid package at the Group of 7 summit meeting. Their comments extended a verbal feud between the two leaders.

But early the next day, Mr. Bolsonaro offered possible terms for the acceptance of the aid package when he spoke to reporters in the capital, Brasília.

He said that if Mr. Macron withdrew “insults made to my person,” and what Mr. Bolsonaro interpreted as insinuations that Brazil does not have sovereignty over the Amazon, he would reconsider.

“To talk or accept anything from France, even with their very best intentions, he will have to withdraw his words, and then we can talk,” Mr. Bolsonaro said. “First he withdraws them, then he makes the offer, and then I’ll answer.”

Mr. Bolsonaro, who has suggested earlier that Mr. Macon’s real motive is to shield France’s agriculture from Brazilian competition, had tweeted on Monday that the president “disguises his intentions behind the idea of an ‘alliance’ of the G7 countries to ‘save’ the Amazon, as if we were a colony or a no-man’s land.”

He sounds a lot like like Trump.

The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board: Editorial: The Amazon is burning and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro doesn’t care.

The fires raging at the edges of the Amazon rainforest are, at the moment, largely consuming lands that had already been converted from their natural state into tracts waiting to be farmed or developed. Nevertheless, some of the blazes are eating away at the rainforest itself, reducing its size by a football field a minute. And one of the most disturbing things about them is that they aren’t part of the cycle of nature, like a California wildfire might be, but are intentionally set in many cases to get rid of brush and felled trees to make way for soy fields and beef grazing grounds. That reflects Brazil’s troubling return to a policy of deforestation that, if unabated, could have grave consequences for efforts to counter the worst effects of global warming.

The reason the Amazon is burning is because Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who followed Donald Trump’s populist, anti-establishment playbook to win election last year, wants it to. He thinks the Amazon should not be protected, and that lands reserved for indigenous peoples should not be recognized — all in the name of economic growth. That see-no-evil approach is another point Bolsonaro has in common with Trump, who has sought to make an alarming amount of public lands available for oil and gas drilling and other extractive industries, such as uranium mining — the health of the planet be damned.

At the just-concluded G-7 meeting in France, international leaders criticized Bolsonaro for his land-use and environmental policies, which include telling those who would cut the rainforest that his government would no longer stop them. So the rate of deforestation, while still far below what it had been a dozen years ago, has been increasing. The G-7 also announced more than $20 million in aid to Brazil and Bolivia for firefighting equipment — a drop in the bucket considering the need, advocates say — and French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to put together an alliance to push for reforestation.

Bolsonaro was not receptive; he accused the leaders of embracing colonialism by telling Brazil what to do. But there’s nothing colonial in asking a neighbor to stop lighting fires that affect the rest of us….

We are all joined by the hard reality that our continued release of carbon into the atmosphere — whether it be from the cars we commute in or the forest Brazilians burn to grow food — is endangering us all. It’s a reality not recognized by Bolsonaro. Nor by Trump, who neither joined the criticism of Bolsonaro’s policies nor showed up for the G-7 climate talks that led to the fire aid package. Both presidents’ disregard for the well-being of the world is, literally, playing with fire. That won’t end well.

The Washington Post: How beef demand is accelerating the Amazon’s deforestation and climate peril.

There are approximately 1.5 billion cows in the world, a population second only to humans among large mammals. They can be raised anywhere: from the Arctic to the equator, on prairies, in deserts and on mountains.

Cattle ranchers in the Brazilian Amazon — the storied rainforest that produces oxygen for the world and modulates climate — are aggressively expanding their herds and willing to clear-cut the forest and burn what’s left to make way for pastures. As a result, they’ve become the single biggest driver of the Amazon’s deforestation, causing about 80 percent of it, according to the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

The ecological devastation is done in the service of the surging demand for beef. About 80 percent of Brazil’s beef is consumed domestically, said Nathalie Walker, the director of the tropical forest and agriculture program at the National Wildlife Federation.

Read more at the WaPo.

I admit, I’m feeling extremely pessimistic today. If anyone has more positive news, I’d love to read about it. I love you guys.


30 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: Too Many Emergencies”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Here’s the immigration story I linked up top.

    • quixote says:

      a) You’re allowed to be critical. Even Ajjawi himself is allowed to be critical.

      Buuuut…

      this is his friends? He’s responsible for what his friends say?

      So, just adding it up here, torture has been okay since Shrub’s day, recently we’ve moved to indefinite detention with scarcely a ripple, now collective guilt. It’s good nothing like this has ever happened before, but that means we have absolutely no idea how it could end.

      /*sorry, bb. I’m feeling pretty pessimistic too!*/

      • bostonboomer says:

        Fortunately it’s Harvard and they seem to have lawyers in standby to deal with this, but it’s a shocking story.

        • dakinikat says:

          It says they had 4 grad students in limbo about 2 years ago when he started his Muslim ban thing and it took them awhile but they finally got them back. This is so insane.

  2. bostonboomer says:

  3. dakinikat says:

    Okay, this tweet is disgusting!!! I’ll try to find something happier! But, Puerto Rico will need us to do something again and that’s part of why all of us pay taxes. FEMA has no real leader atm so we’re going to have to rely that the people that have worked their for years can pre position things.

  4. dakinikat says:

  5. NW Luna says:

    JJ, and anyone interested in medieval art:

  6. NW Luna says:

  7. NW Luna says:

  8. dakinikat says:

    BB:

    • bostonboomer says:

      Lawrence will be thrilled! He would be able to get Trumps financial info through discovery.

    • quixote says:

      So does that mean he has to produce the loan papers to prove who co-signed them? Or in the crazy legal world does defamation mean “people saying stuff I don’t like” regardless of whether it’s true or not?

      • lililam says:

        Lawrence was so careful to couch each mention of the story with “if true” and “it has not been corroborated”. It would be a very weak case and another attempt to silence the media. The trouble is, it will never go to court, so Trump will not be called on to produce discovery, these are idle threats to give Trump more ammunition against the media. He couldn’t ignore Lawrence’s pronouncement – Trump had to respond, the schnook.

  9. RonStill4Hills says:

    “As Storm approaches Trump says Puerto Rico is ‘one of te most corrupt places on earth”

    https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/28/politics/donald-trump-dorian-carmen-yulin-cruz/index.html

    Is there no bottom?

    • quixote says:

      In a word: No.

      That’s why I keep running around with my hair on fire about getting rid of the whole criminal Adminstration.

      We really don’t want to find out how bad it can get. Russian Revolution bad? Pinochet bad? Great Leap Forward bad? The USians, like all comfortable people, think they’re immune.

      • NW Luna says:

        We’ve been thinking “it can’t happen here,” but it is happening. I don’t know why more people aren’t running around with their hair on fire. I blame the media bothsides-ism for a good part of it.

        • NW Luna says:

  10. NW Luna says:

  11. dakinikat says:

    Cadet Bonespurs strikes again!

  12. dakinikat says:

    • dakinikat says:

      • quixote says:

        I have very mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, there are about a dozen who should drop out before her. On the other, it’s a mark of her stature and sense that she can see the need to concentrate on the best candidates leading the pack.

        Shouting “Me! Me! Me!” as so many of them are doing when the voters for whatever reason just don’t care about you is not helpful.

        So good for her. And also boo, and sniff!

      • NW Luna says:

        I too have mixed feelings. Pragmatically, she’s right to leave the field. It seems that the most sensible candidates with low polling are exiting early (Inslee, Gillibrand). Then we have the likes of Gabbard, Williamson, Yang (and I can’t remember the rest of the names) still continuing.